The last time these two teams met the Packers were coming back from a bye and wondering how their new left guard, Evan Dietrich-Smith, was going to work out against Nick Fairley. You may have forced yourself to forget, I know I tried, but it didn’t work out well. In fact there is a strong argument that the EDS experiment at LG has gone horribly, horribly wrong. This time the Packers may once again have a new (and old) left guard in the lineup with the rise of Don Barclay. Thus the question becomes, can T.J. Lang handle Fairley better than EDS did a few weeks ago?
He probably can. Lang is a bit more of a fighter and seems more comfortable along the inside than he has at RT the last few weeks. Lang held down the position for 2011 and did a solid, if unspectacular job. Lang also started the year as the Packers LG, and while he did struggle early on in the season, he improved along with the rest of the line. After Bryan Bulaga was injured and lost for the season Lang made the switch to RT. If coach McCarthy decides to promote Barclay to RT this week then Lang should be able to move back to LG. A switch back to his old position should help maintain the inside of the pocket and open up some escape lanes for Aaron Rodgers is Barclay struggles in his first start.
That said it is going to be a challenge. Nick Fairley is still on a hot streak and playing very well. Worse news is that his running buddy, Ndamukong Suh, is also coming off a good game. Normally if the Packers were facing one player of this quality they would double team the guy and limit his effectiveness. The best example of how this plan works is the Packers treatment of J.J. Watt. Unlike that plan though, the Packers can’t devote double teams to both Fairly and Suh, meaning the line will have to win with single blocks. Josh Sitton should be able to hold his own on the right side, and Lang may be the only real answer the Packers have for the left side.
Then again, we may find out that Lang is not ready to go for Sunday. If this happens then all we can do is buckle up and pray that EDS fares better than his previous match up with Fairley.